Research Report of the California State University Agricultural Research Initiative, November 1, 2003.
Depressed hog prices in 1998 and 1999 were due to not enough shackle space (kill capacity) and not to a glut of slaughter swine. However, many swine producers were put out of business in California. In 2000, market prices rebounded due to increased shackle space and reduced numbers of slaughter swine available as a result of the sellouts of the previous two years. The economic roller coaster ride emphasized the need for maximizing profit while streamlining operations. Increasing numbers of pigs per litter, and thereby reducing the cost per pig produced, is one aspect of streamlining. A significant step in improved litter efficiency would be to utilize platelet activating factor (PAF) in commercial swine operations. Platelet activating factor is involved in signal transduction within many of the body’s physiological systems. Of primary interest in the reproductive system is PAF’s enhancement of embryonic development, placental attachment and sperm functioning. The amount of embryo-derived PAF produced is correlated to pregnancy potential, since higher PAF levels lead to greater numbers of embryos developing to the blastocyst stage. It is produced by the embryos of various mammalian species, exerts significant effects upon the preimplantation embryo placental attachment, and perhaps maternal recognition of pregnancy and sperm functioning. Presently, only Professor John Diehl of the Animal and Veterinary Science Department at Clemson University, in collaboration with others, has published data to suggest that PAF is found in either male or female swine reproductive tracts. Most notably, PAF was found in the uterine luminal fluid (ULF), the developing filamentous embryo and the endometrium.